- The Professoriate in the Age of Globalization
As Philip G. Altbach and Patti McGill Peterson explain in the foreword to Nelly Stromquist’s edited The Professoriate in the Age of Globalization, the volume is an outcome of the Fulbright New Century Scholars Program. Believing that “the existence of high quality and accessible institutions of higher education in any country is one of the key predictors of national progress as well as the ability of a nation to claim a leadership role in the community of nations” (p. xi), the program’s fourth year centered on the theme of “global higher education.” With her Fulbright colleagues, Stromquist created a text with complementary yet divergent focuses representing research conducted in Mexico (Manuel Gil-Antón), Brazil (Elizabeth Balbachevsky), Peru (Nelly Stromquist), Denmark (Carol Colatrella), Russia (Anna Smolentseva), and South Africa (Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela). The book’s chapter structure and analyses share a logic that globalization is a force that works on nations, their higher educational institutions, and, thus, their faculty.
Stromquist’s introduction offers an overview of higher education and the professoriate in the context of economic, technological, and social changes often associated with globalization, arguing that “the university is emerging as a site that mirrors all three globalizing forces” (p. 1). She identifies the massification of higher education, time-space compression, and neoliberalism (decreasing governmental regulation and increasing privatization and marketization) as “globalization dynamics affecting universities” (p. 2).
Unfortunately, Stromquist’s literature review lacks a decentered, global perspective due to its thematic reliance on research conducted in the United State and other Anglophonic nations, despite references to other countries and regions. She highlights (a) increasing competition for resources and prestige, (b) the growth of for-profit institutions, (c) intensifying managerialism, (d) entrepreneurialism, and (e) declining faculty autonomy and governance. The largely unexamined link between globalization and the neoliberal ideologies that support these changes hints at but does not explore (neo)colonial power relations. Instead, Stromquist alludes to institutional mimesis in the context of global competition, explaining that ideas about universities come “from the North and shape the South in a reactive and imitational manner” (p. 17).
The studies from Mexico, Brazil, and Peru share concern with the effects of increasing demand for higher education and institutional competition. Gil-Antón’s survey- and interview-based study focuses on Mexican academics working in non-elite private institutions, an unprotected employment sector that has grown significantly with institutional proliferation and segmentation. Balbachevsky employs surveys and interviews to create a typology of the increasingly stratified Brazilian professoriate, whose conditions she analyzes as effects of privatization, competition, and changing governmental regulation of higher education. Stromquist’s case study of faculty at the elite Universidad Pontificia Católica de Peru describes managerialism, marketization, stratification of part- and full-time faculty, devaluing of teaching, and pressures to internationalize and conduct entrepreneurial research.
While the chapters offer interesting descriptions of national situations, they lack sustained analysis of global relations. Consider, for example, this statement in the Peruvian chapter about the lack of resources and faculty segmentation: “That this happens also in a premier university such as PUC suggests that the globalization objective of moving universities in developing countries toward knowledge production is still a fragile enterprise” (p. 115).
The next three studies explore the effects of national higher educational restructuring. Colatrella’s qualitative study of Denmark’s professoriate focuses on the stratification of faculty and institutions as increasingly hierarchical administrative practices privilege internationalization and entrepreneurial research. Her analysis locates these changes as responses to globalization, specifically attributing Denmark’s higher educational restructuring to efforts at greater competitiveness after Denmark signed the Bologna Process.
Smolentseva’s mixed method study of Russian faculty describes a system lacking resources as it modernizes in order to adapt to Bologna. She portrays a professoriate largely unable to articulate the meanings of globalization and internationalization yet aware of resource-based and geographic stratification of faculty opportunities to participate in international activities or produce (funded) research.
Finally, Mobokela offers a...